Diagnosis vs Prognosis: Difference and Comparison

Medical examinations are something we all need to get done from time to time. Several procedures go into this process, both formal and medical ones. The formal ones include getting an appointment, billing, etc.

The ones related to medicine are diagnosis and prognosis. Usually, people get confused between these two terms.

And most people are familiar with the more widely used widely diagnosis. However, some people are aware of what prognosis means. But it is important to know the difference between the meanings of these two terms.

Key Takeaways

  1. Diagnosis is identifying a disease or condition based on symptoms, tests, and examinations.
  2. Prognosis refers to a disease’s likely outcome or course based on factors such as the patient’s age and general health.
  3. Diagnosis is essential for determining appropriate treatment options, while prognosis helps patients understand the potential risks and benefits of different courses of action.

Diagnosis vs. Prognosis

The difference between diagnosis and prognosis is that diagnosis is the identification of the disease, and prognosis is the action taken to recover from the disease.

Diagnosis vs Prognosis

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Diagnosis is the process where the doctor or medical practitioner tries to identify the disease a person is suffering from based on the Science and symptoms he or she is displaying. Diagnosis is the first process that is followed when one visits a doctor, which is then followed by prognosis.

Prognosis is where the doctor or medical practitioner tells the patient the process that must be followed, which will help the patient recover. It includes which medicine to take and when, what diet must be followed, what lifestyle changes must be made, etc.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDiagnosisPrognosis
DefinitionDiagnosis is the process of identifying the disease by considering the signs and symptoms a patient is suffering from.Prognosis is the process that tells us the path to be followed to recover from the disease that has been diagnosed.
OrderDiagnosis is performed first.Prognosis is performed after diagnosis.
DurationDiagnosis does not take much time.The prognosis can be long and, in some cases, might last for years.
Dependency on AgeDiagnosis does not depend on age.The prognosis depends on age.
UniquenessDiagnosis is the same for everybody; hence it is unique.Prognosis varies from person to person; hence it is not unique.

What is Diagnosis?

Diagnosis is the identification of a disease that a patient is suffering from, taking into account the signs and symptoms displayed. Diagnosis is the first step when a person sees a doctor and orders a medical practitioner.

A licensed, qualified, and certified person should only perform diagnosis. Diagnosis is very important as it is the key step towards recovery.

In case of a wrong diagnosis, the whole process of recovery might be misled, leading to the patient being in a worse condition than he or she is currently in. Hence diagnosis is a very important step.

When a doctor diagnoses a person,  the first step in this process is to collect the patient’s medical history to see whether the person has any history of that disease.

The doctor might also check if the person’s family has any such history with that specific disease, as genes pass on diseases. Then the doctor might have a few specific diseases in mind that the person might be suffering from.

This is answered by asking the patient several questions about his or her well-being and how he or she is feeling. The doctor might also take the help of various tests,  such as a blood test,  x-ray, stool, urine test, etc.

This helps the doctor to confirm which disease the patient might be suffering from. Once the disease is pinpointed, the process of diagnosis is over.

Sometimes a wrong diagnosis might have been performed, too, leading to greater problems, so the doctor needs to be very careful and consider all factors while diagnosing the disease a patient suffers from.


What is Prognosis?

Prognosis is the step where the recovery part of a patient is decided after diagnosis has been performed and the disease has been identified. A prognosis is longer than a diagnosis and, in many cases, might last for years or even a lifetime.

Prognosis also tells us how the disease will likely behave in the future and when it will likely end. The prognosis might also bring about various lifestyle changes, such as diet, exercise, work, etc.

One very important thing about prognosis is that prognosis varies from person to person. Prognosis depends on several factors, such as gender, age, pre-existing health conditions, and in some cases, even the country in which one lives.

In most cases, prognosis also tells us whether the person will or will not be able to perform any specific activity throughout their lifetime. In a way, prognosis determines how a person’s life will be changed because of the disease they are suffering from.

Prognosis also depends on the disease a person is suffering from, the mental well-being of the patient, and whether the patient is suffering from any other disease.

The last point is important because often, it can happen that when a person is suffering from multiple diseases,  the prognosis of one disease interferes with the progress of the other disease, thus making things worse.

Prognosis can also change with time as a person gradually heals as the person’s condition worsens. This should be done under the supervision and guidance of a trained medical expert only.


Main Differences Between Diagnosis and Prognosis

  1. Diagnosis is the process of identification of the disease, while prognosis is the process that tells us how to cope and battle with the disease.
  2. Diagnosis is performed first, followed by prognosis.
  3. Diagnosis takes little time, but the prognosis can last a lifetime.
  4. Diagnosis does not depend on age, so prognosis depends on age.
  5. The diagnosis of What disease is the same for all people; hence it is unique, whereas prognosis might vary from person to person and hence is not unique.
Difference Between X and Y 2023 04 19T122134.128
  1. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/25bf/0126f8a09f04bc55d9d93b1acf2faa1fb49a.pdf
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0272989×8300300403

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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